Wild cucumber, (Echinocystis lobata) is this weeks “villain” …also known as balsam apple, prickly cucumber, wild balsam apple, wild mock cucumber and lace pants, four seeded bur cucumber.
It’s genus name, derived from Greek words, means hedgehog bladder
Wild cucumber is an annual vine that can grow up to 6m in a year. It likes damp areas and prefers full sun… but it really will grow in a wide variety of conditions.
It’s aggressive, vining growth habit allows it to grow up and cover other herbaceous plants, tree and shrubs. It completely shades these plants, preventing them from photosynthesizing (making food) which eventually kills them.
While wild cucumber may be a tempting plant for gardeners to grow as it makes a dense cover for trellis’s or fences but it is invasive and may cause a significant amount of work to control in your yard!. There is also the chance that it will escape into a natural area where it can take over and have a negative impact on the habitat and wildlife.
It’s still possible to purchase wild cucumber seeds online. It is always a good idea to do your research before ordering new seeds… they just may turn out to be invasive!